Gail Katz-Bierenbaum was the attractive, young wife of an up and coming surgeon when she disappeared in July of 1985. Her husband, Dr. Robert Bierenbaum, was an overachiever with a very promising future. Charming but admittedly awkward, Bob was a surgical resident who spoke several languages, piloted his own plane, and enjoyed gourmet cooking. They seemed like the perfect Manhattan couple.
Trouble in the Bierenbaum marriage began before there was a wedding. Bob was obsessive, possessive, and controlling. Gail had always been a free spirit, a creative and intelligent person. But Gail was raised with the goal of marrying a doctor. Her mother believed her financial insecurity and tendency to move from one thing to another would be cured if she became a doctor’s wife.
Before her disappearance, Gail and Bob were planning a divorce. Bob didn’t want Gail to leave him. Gail had told a friend that she had proof Bob was committing Medicaid fraud. She would threaten to expose him to get her freedom. Then, Bob called Gail’s mother looking for her.
When Gail’s mother arrived at the Bierenbaum apartment, she found Gail’s purse with her keys and cigarettes. Bob said she had left in a huff the day before. He hadn’t seen her since. His story didn’t ring true.
At the quiet end today, we’re telling the story of a couple who seemed to have life all figured out. But the reality of their lives, and Gail’s death, was far from ideal. Without a body, it would take years to put together what happened to Gail and to bring Bob Bierenbaum to trial. But did they get it right?